For Julia Chandler Lawing, the Golden Isles will always be home. It’s where she spent her formative years and where she developed a lifelong passion and love of art.
Lawing still has vivid memories of local teachers who helped guide her steps when she was a girl.
“As far back as I can remember, I’ve been encouraged by art teachers. I think they saw something in me and tried to encourage me,” Lawing said. “I actually had the same art teacher, Annaliesia Taylor, from 8th to 12th grade. She would work with me one-on-one and gave me private instruction.”
With this nurturing she received from her teacher, Lawing began to blossom into a confident young artist. Lawing even picked up a countywide first place award for a pen and ink drawing. When she went off to college at UNC-Chapel Hill, she focused on earning a degree in journalism but kept her love of the arts close.
“I was not as confident in college,” she said with a laugh. “But I would take art classes on the side. It was in college actually that I really found a love of art history, and that got me into painting.”
It wouldn’t be a medium she would fully explore until 2014, when Lawing started taking classes in oil painting. She studied under Charlotte artist Andy Braitman, who became her mentor.
“I really fell in love with him as a teacher, and I still paint with him,” she said.
Her oil works lean toward the impressionistic side of the spectrum. While she often paints real scenes from photographs, Lawing incorporates a sense of abstraction into moments pulled from nature and every day life.
“It’s not hyper-realism. It is realism, but I would say more abstract-realism,” she said. “I want to give the impression of something without it looking exactly like a photo. I actually do take a lot of photos ... everywhere I go. Something will get my attention — the light, the color or the people. I find inspiration all around me.”
That is certainly true of her hometown. Lawing has crafted many paintings from the places she grew up — St. Simons and Jekyll islands. She frequently returns to visit her family as well as the locations that have become special to her.
In fact, many of these spots will be featured in her upcoming Jekyll Island exhibit. Her work will be paired with Brunswick-based basket weaver, Linda Lanter, for the Jekyll Island Art Association’s June exhibit. The show will open with a reception from 1-3 p.m. on June 2 at Goodyear Cottage on Jekyll Island. It will be displayed throughout the month.
“For Jekyll, it’s a long wait for the show ... three years. So I’ve known about it for a long time. I’ve been painting exclusively for the show for a lot of coastal work. I’ve painted the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and a lot of wildlife,” she said. “I have some scenes from St. Simons too and then some more general things.”
Lawing looks forward to having her works featured in a place so dear to her heart. She’s equally excited about being paired with Lanter.
“I’ve only met her once, but I really loved her profile she shared with the Jekyll Arts Association,” Lawing said. “I love that she’s breaking out of barriers by not just doing basketry but also using found objects of all kinds. I think we’re alike in that we are trying to use pieces and influences from our lives.”
Coastal People appears Tuesdays. Contact Lindsey Adkison at email@example.com or at 912-265-8320, ext. 346 to suggest a person for a column.